Familar Photo in Flickr Search Results
Familar Photo in Flickr Search Results by cogdogblog
posted 7 Oct ’08, 4.39pm MDT PST on flickr

How weird it is to be in search of a flickr image for a post, and seeing your own photo show up? I have been using compfight for my cc image search, and a recent search on "microphone" brought up my own image of my old iRiver MP3 recorder- 3rd row, 5th from left- (why it is relevant is beyond me).

I did not use it.

This brings me to a different topic that perhaps deserves a more thought out blog post. There is some art, magic, and luck with getting good flickr search results. Just plain keywords matching what you are looking for does not always hit the mark.

The image I was looking for was to go with my post on Paging @KathySierra – search on the word “paging” really brough all kinds of things, none of which struck the metaphor I was looking for; thinking more of the old airport announcements where a voice booms, “Kathy Sierra, please pick up the white paging phone”.

What I really needed was the metaphor not the exact word I had in mind, and the better fit was a search for “microphone” – even in these results were many things to weed out, but I ended up on the first two screens of results with about 15 possible candidates.

The one I chose just felt right because a classic shot (it violates so called rule of thirds) and lack of distracting background.

So what are your “above the board” techniques for getting good results in image searches? How deep in the results to you dive?

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I agree with the whole “metaphor” thing – often you have to come at flickr indirectly. I often find myself tweeting for the right word to search on (my favourite was trying to help @fncll find images for “proprioception” – try doing a flickr search on that on its own!)

    This came up at OpenEd – during one of our numerous late night brainstorms, Tony Hirst and I looked at each other when talking about this and simultaneously said “thesaurus search!” We were then supposed to race each other to see who could do it first (I’ll claim I got derailed by other projects, which is sort of true, but really, I didn’t think to bother to try, expecting Tony to have finished it in 15 minutes after he got back to his hotel room.)

    By the way, if you had tweeted looking for the right word to search on, my suggestion would have been “megaphone” not “microphone.” In any case, nice job with that post, result achieved!

  2. Heh, I was doing some searching today and I kept running into *your* photos. How about trying to find an image for “identity” or for “feedback”. I did a search for “emergence” and got a bug coming out of its shell. Eww. But all fun! Searches on “network theory” didn’t work too well, but network graph and connected were better. And I always like seeing the difference between “most relevant” and “most interesting” and seeing what searching on just the tags reveals. Sometimes I end up perusing someone’s entire collection–so easy to get lost in these things. I also enjoy using deviantart for drawings and arty photos. Even if I don’t find anything there, sometimes it gives me ideas for searches to run on Flickr. FYI, there’s a comic hero named Feedback, which I didn’t know about until a run through deviantart.

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